Chapter Thirteen Sunday, February 19 2012 Early Evening

"Hey, honey, I'm in here," Nicole called out into the hallway from the living room after hearing the familiar sound of the front door shutting just a few feet away. It was safe to assume that the person entering their home was none other than EJ; at least she hoped.

EJ stumbled into the living room looking back toward the front door with a perplexed look on his face. "Sweetheart, why is there about a dozen reporters standing on our lawn?"

"Really? They're still there," she said, furrowing her eyebrows as she jumped from the sofa and scurried over to the window to have a see for herself. "I'll be damned. Looks like there's even more than there was earlier."

"Darling," he whispered into her ear as he approached her from behind and his chin came to rest on her shoulder, "Why are they demanding to know who shot me in the head? What's going on?"

"I suppose you didn't get a chance to read the paper today," Nicole said after turning to face him, nervously gnawing on her bottom lip as her eyes searched his for any indication he knew what she was talking about.

"Well, not cover to cover but I did skim through it on the way to my meeting. What I do know is that whatever is in that paper made my campaign manager furious and your name just happened to come up. And, oh yes, I should not forget to mention that my father wishes to have you killed."

He seemed more intrigued than anything which made Nicole breathe a sigh of relief. She'd planned to tell him everything...well, almost everything...earlier this morning before they both became preoccupied with their lengthly make-up session and was forced to post-pone the download of info for their dinner date which she was also unfortunately forced to reschedule. However, she saw it as a fortunate mishap on her part and believed that catching EJ off-guard only worked in his favor. It was her whole purpose for not telling him about her secret rendesvouz in the first place.

She took his hands into hers and guided him to a seat next to her on the sofa. A proper explanation would require time to be thorough. "These last few months have been crazy for us both but, you especially with the campaign and the sudden boom in business for DiMera Enterprises. I began to notice that you've been focusing so much on me and my needs that some of our other plans have fallen to the wayside so, I began to use my free time figuring out what I can do on my own to further them along."

EJ opened his mouth to enquire about what he could possibly be forgetting but Nicole refused to let him speak and continued to ramble on when they both began talking at the same time.

"Your decision to run for mayor has already gained national attention because of you being a DiMera and that got me thinking. Everyone is obsessed with wondering what would happen to this quaint little town of Salem if you were to win. Well, I thought it was high time that someone point out that we're already plagued by corruption and conspiracy to obstruct justice. Regardless of what people may think of you, the attempt made on your life is still a crime and the person who did that deserves to pay, even if it's the commissioner's daughter."

"Sweetheart, what did you do? And how-"

"The man I had dinner with was not Nate Warren. You obviously didn't see a picture yourself because you would've known right away that it wasn't him. The man that I met for dinner was Matthew Schmitt, a political analyst for the Chicago Tribune. He's a friend of Nate's so I asked Nate if he would put a bug in his ear that I had a little tale that I'd like to share. Believe me, Nate couldn't get off the phone with me fast enough for fear of you coming after him, which I suppose is also the only reason he even agreed to it."

"Darling, please tell me-"

"Don't worry," Nicole interrupted, stroking his chin with her fingertips for soothing effect. "I didn't give any names or even hint at possible suspects. All I said was that you have information revealing the identity of your shooter and that you feel that you can not use it because history has shown that justice would not be served and the only thing revealing your information would accomplish is the family being further harrassed by local law enforcement. Believe me, as much as I'd like to see that bitch behind bars for the rest of her life, I would never do anything that might traumatize Johnny and Sydney. But, that won't stop me from doing everything possible to get them back under our roof, for good." A wry little smile began to spread across her face. "Some people would call it blackmail, I call it leverage. Sami will have no choice but to honor my request when I pay her a little visit tomorrow."

"And what exactly are the details of this request?" There was a timidness to his question based on the fact that he wasn't quite sure if he wanted to hear the answer he assumed he already knew. It would only remind him how assinine he'd been to assume she was being deceitful when in fact she was only playing the role of the loving, devoted wife.

"Well, I'm going to gently inform her that regardless of whether or not you decide to do anything about it, I know the truth and I'm not afraid to use it. I will then proceed to request that the children have their bags packed and be ready to be picked up after school on Tuesday, so that they can spend the evening enjoying dinner and cake with their father on his birthday. They will spend the night that evening and regular visitation with their father will resume immediately unless she wants me to make my revelation to Anderson Cooper, who by-the-way phoned here this evening requesting an interview."

"That's why Mary was cleaning their rooms," EJ replied in an almost whisper which, when paired with the familiar nostril flaring and redness forming on the rims of his eyes was a sure indicator that he was brimming with emotion in some form. In this case it was a nice cocktail of two parts overwhelming love for his wife, one part anger, (toward no one other than himself,) with a dash of guilt and a twist of regret. He suddenly began to feel the physical effects akin to that of a hangover as if he'd been binging on the stuff all night.

"I know my methods are a bit unconventional, but I wanted you to have complete plausible deniability with Sami. Now you can honestly state that you had nothing to do with this and anything anyone may try to accuse you of is unfounded. Furthermore and for the record, I would like to attest that I am only doing this for my own, selfish reasons so I can see Sydney and, if you try to stop me from forcing Sami to cooperate, EJ DiMera, I shall be forced to go public with the evidence and have her thrown in prison at once. You might want to slip her a gentle reminder that now that the story's drawn national attention it won't be so easy for the Salem PD and their botched investigations to fly under the radar."

"There is just one, tiny little hole in your story, Mrs. DiMera," EJ purred into her ear after pulling her onto his lap.

"Oh yeah? What's that?"

He gazed down into her eyes with complete adoration as he spoke. "There's not one thing selfish about what you just did so how am I supposed to convince Samantha of that."

Nicole let out a mischevious chuckle. "Just do like you always did with her, honey. Fake it."